The common area at Edward Milne community school has three new additions that not only decorate the walls, but demonstrate the school’s strong commitment to aboriginal education, says vice-principal John Lyall.
“We really value what we place on our walls and these pieces of art not only represent our values, but give us a chance to add to the education we provide about First Nations culture.”
The art installations at the school are comprised of two wall hangings on one side of the common area and a large spindle whorl carving on the opposite wall.
Charlene kQwàst’not (George) of the T’Sou-ke Nation is the artist that helped guide the project.
“I’m just the holder of the pencil, really,” said kQwàst’not, who explained how it was the students and teachers who brought their own ideas and concepts to the creation of the art project.
“It was truly a collaboration of all of us working together that made it happen.”
She added the initial work on the wall hangings was not perfect and, after first hanging them, the group decided to take them down and make some changes.
“There is a lesson there for people. If you do something and it’s not right, there is always the chance to change it and make it better,” said kQwàst’not.
The four-foot diameter wood carving was also a challenging piece of work. Given the requirements for the use of very sharp tools and a lot of precision, kQwàst’not explained that she took on most of the actual creation of the piece, but still with the input of the students.
“What we have is the hangings representing the 13 moons of our yearly cycle. The sun on the other wall is the balance … the male in contrast to the female of the moons.”
The unveiling of the works was marked by musical presentations of drumming and song by T’Souke elders and a demonstration of dance by a group of EMCS students.
This was not kQwà st’not’s first art-for-schools project.
She is the artist behind a large installation at the University of Victoria and is in the process of designing eight large panels for installation at Spencer middle school in Langford.
She is also working on a project for both Belmont secondary and Royal Bay secondary schools.